Being in debt can lead to relationship issues with your spouse and even divorce. It can lead to loss of opportunities because your credit score is available online and people do look at it.
The very first step is to go get a pair of scissors and cut up all your credit cards. If you are in a hole the first step is to stop digging. This is normally where the excuses begin. "I need a credit card to rent a car, blah, blah , blah"... if this is really the case take one card put it into an envelope and have a parent or trusted friend hold onto it for you. Use it only for a car rental or some situation where a card is required. Pay off the charges immediately!
Tell them you are in debt and that you are trying to get out of debt and that you want them to hold this card for a case like renting a car or some such matter that absolutely requires a credit card. Typically people in deep debt just need to cut up all their cards as they will end up using them for frivolous spending thereby negating this whole process of debt reduction.
The next step in my debt reduction plan was to make a budget of all my monthly expenses. This is very important and you have to do this in order to make the program work. You have to understand what money is coming in and what money is going out to the literal penny.
You have to begin thinking of your personal financial matters like a business. Successful businesses know to the nickel funds entering and leaving the business.
After determining your budget and cutting expenses to the bone you should understand how much excess cashflow you can begin to apply to debt reduction.
Many people will suggest that you attack the the debt with the highest interest rate first. However, you are already deep in debt and this fact has you demoralized and dejected. You need a victory to help you stay motivated as this process is not fun and is grueling. Knock out the low hanging fruit and get some points on the board.
Another thing you need to do is get an account with Credit Karma. Determine what your beginning credit score is, probably not good if you are deep in debt, and monitor it every month. You will notice something after a couple of months. As your debt decreases you credit score should begin to creep up.
If you are like me this will begin to motivate you to stick with the program as you see you debt totals going down and your credit rating going up. You should be tracking the debt balances and credit score monthly on an excel spreadsheet or just a notebook. Remember we need to be running our financial life like a business. That is what wealthy and successful people do.
After you knock out the first debt continue working your way up the chain of debt but continue to devote the same amount of money even as you knock out each debt. So if you are devoting $500 per month to debt reduction continue to devote $500 per month even as you begin to knock out the different debts. This will probably take a couple of years. Yeah it takes some time and sacrifice. People do not get into debt overnight and it takes effort, self control, and time to get out debt.
As you get additional sources of income (something you should be doing if you are in debt) or a raise at work your living expenses should be staying relatively stable. Devote the additional income to debt reduction.